Can a city boy build his dream homestead on a mountain, by himself and with no mortgage?

Posts tagged “off grid living

All quiet on the Western front

I’m sorry I haven’t been posting much lately, all is good, weather is hot, work is slow, cows and I are lazy, not much else to report.

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Tri-tip and Sirloin are fine, London Broil has been visiting her mother in the next county (I assume) and Lil’ Sirloin spends most of his time with the hoodlums down by the creek.

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The woodpecker has moved on finally, the disco mylar strips and attack spikes have managed to put a wrench in his gears so he’s off destroying someone else’s cabin.

Eventually I’ll do something and write about it, but just not today!

The lazy hazy crazy days of summer keep a rollin’ on

 


me and my big mouth

cabin close

A few weeks ago I was asked, by a very nice girl, if I would want to participate in a tiny house lecture/Q&A in Los Angeles. Being the publicity houndwhore that I am, I agreed.

With that in mind, if anyone in the Los Angeles area is not too drunk at 1pm this Sunday March 17th (St. Patrick’s Day for those of you in Rio Linda), come on down to Atwater Village, have a cup of coffee, and watch me make a fool out of myself for 45 mins! (you’ll have to buy your own coffee though). I’ll talk about my process, my cabin, and if I don’t get too nervous and wet my pants, I’ll answer questions about everything tiny house.

In case I suck and bore everyone to death, there’s a second lecture after mine about earth-building homes by a very cool and clever couple, it looks like they build fantastic hobbit houses from this picture on Facebook…

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Robert and Mireille from Earth Works Building will be speaking about the history of natural building traditions. From cob, adobe, and clay ovens, to newer methods like sandbag structures, recycle friendly earthships. Learn how surprisingly inexpensive, fireproof, and energy efficient natural building can be and the vital connection it makes in building community. http://www.earthworksbuilding.com/ 

Clearly they will be more interesting than me so this event should be well worth the drive (and if it’s not, we can always start a food fight!)

For you Face-place fluent types, there’s a interweb page about it…

https://www.facebook.com/events/138936376278864/

Tiny House lecture

Lecture is free.
Lunch is pay-what-you-want.
Q&A to follow both presenters.

The event is being held at “Thank You For Coming” at 3416 Glendale Blvd, in Atwater Village, a short walk from either Silverlake or Glendale, I hear that the food is fantastic.

Like the cool kids always say, be there or be square!

e.


the return of woody and his nasty pecker

It’s been gorgeous weather up on Mt. Elroy. Clear and crisp with some snow still on the distant peaks.

I was gone for a few weeks, went to Nashville and mid-Central Tennessee to check out the landscape (that’s a whole other post and a half). Upon my return I discovered that the evil “Woody the Woodpecker” had not only UNDONE the repairs I made to his recent damage, but he went back at my cabin with a vengeance.

Some of the holes actually go all the way through the OSB sheathing and into the insulation. Damage was done in all the same places, just more aggressively…

I nailed up some metal sheeting as a temporary fix. This week I will run down to LA and grab some metal mesh I have in the basement. Woodpeckers are Federally protected under the Migratory Bird Act (sounds like a lotta bulls**t if you ask me) so I can’t kill him. I can, however make life on the side of my cabin quite unpleasant for him. Metal mesh, sticky goop, and painted aluminum sheeting should do the trick (and maybe dull his pecker a bit). Since I am a law-obeying citizen and a friend to all living things great and small, I will bend my anger and let him live.

He may get a dinged pecker but such is life in the wild.

it’s a jungle out there.

I wish he wasn’t so damned cute


the devil is in the details

The first step in designing my new small house was laying it out in SketchUp.

SketchUp is Google’s very powerful and free 3D modeling software.  I downloaded it from Google (it’s freeee!) then simply watched a few of Google’s “how to use SketchUp” videos. I’m pretty good with all kinds of software already so learning SketchUp was pretty simple for me. I suspect most folks could learn it with relative ease.

SketchUp also allows you to add furniture to your rooms from a free user-created online database (amazing!!) and then walk-through your model. This makes it possible to see exactly what your house will look and feel like before you spend dollar 1 on anything!

I’ve decided to do detailed layouts of each pod, then spend as much time tweaking and finalizing my design BEFORE I hire an architect to draw my blueprints. By making most aesthetic decisions in MY computer on FREE software, this will cut down on paid hours given to the architect.

The first pod to be designed is the main room, kitchen/dining/living. I need to fit a full kitchen, dining table (I want one, ok?!) and full sofa/tv watching area. Since the kitchen is integral and permanent, it comes first.

SketchUp will let me download a fully built kitchen from the online model warehouse. I found one that is small, tight and will fit in 1/4 of my 16′ wide x 22′ long room.

In order to be precise enough for the architect, I need to design the kitchen down to the 1/8 of an inch. With my rudimentary modeling skills, SketchUp is not the best tool for this. I’m gonna let you in on a BIG SECRET resource…

the IKEA online 3D kitchen planner…it is simply AMAZING!!!

You’ll need to download their 3D browser plug-in so it will run on your computer (their website will let you do it automatically). It is an app designed for you to lay out your dream kitchen (using their products) then go to Ikea and it will spit out an exact list of what to buy (and how much it’ll cost).

It has a very slight learning curve but if you can use SketchUp, you will breeze through the Ikea app with ease. You can build the entire room, complete with doors, windows and vaulted ceiling (all adjustable to your specs), appliances and all cabinetry, all placed down to 1/16 of an inch!

Here’s my new kitchen in the main room…

and the view from the kitchen into the living room!

The app will let you print an overhead layout plot…

elevations of all walls/views…

and a material list with prices…

so as you can see, we’re almost to the point where anybody with a computer and an Internet connection can design their own home (for free) and as I proved last year,

ANYONE with a pickup truck, a few bucks and a dream can build their own home.

 

 

 

even me.

btw, I started one of those  face-page book things. It seems all the cool kids have them and I desperately want to fit in. Check it out and maybe be my friend? (that other tiny house place has like 8 million friends and I’m so totally jealous!)


what the f***ing f***k?

WTF?!

I was up at the cabin last weekend and noticed this…

and this…

and this…

I noticed the damage in the corner, up under the eaves

and what’s with the corners?…

when you look closely at the exposed tar paper, there’s acorns shoved all the way up and down the side…

I have been hacked.

a little online research found the culprit…

Bear in mind that it has been 4 days since I was up there last. This damage has occurred in the last 4 days.  Pecky the Pecking Pest is a fast little bugger.

More online research tells me to repair the damage immediately. Apparently Pecky the Pecking Pest will start pecking then get bored and move a few inches and start pecking again. If he can’t break through to the insulation, he starts pecking again, a few inches away until he finds a nice hollow place to roost. I prefer to roast him but this must be fixed asap.

I run to the big box store and…

remove the old, warped siding, replace the tar paper, fill the pecked holes with Bondo…

since money is tight, my dream of Ipe wood siding will have to wait. I buy more 4’x8′ T-111 and slap it on, caulk the edges and paint…

Voila’… new back siding!

It’s not the siding of my dreams but not too shabby, plus it should keep the local vermin and riff-raff out.

I set up a spy camera to see if I catch the culprit…

nope…

nope…

YIKES!

WTF is that? alligators?!

AHA!


new trees, darker days and the reality of it all

Thanksgiving for me has always been bittersweet. I love turkey feasts and the gathering of friends and family. At the same time, I dread the onset of shorter, darker days and the cyclical unemployment that comes when Hollywood goes on holiday. This year, it seems, will not disappoint in its consistancy. I took the above photo yesterday afternoon on my drive down the mountain. The warmth of the afternoon is at odds with the layer of cold dreary mid-day mist, sort of how I’ve been feeling lately.

 

I am thrilled to have met a fellow wilderness devotee and my alleged doppelgänger. He has agreed to let me blog about him if I use the pseudonym “X”.  He contacted me through the blog and we have recently met and shared war stories.

X is close to my age, size & shape, bought a similar sized parcel of remote forest land on a neighboring mountain, was a freelance creative Hollywood professional for much of his life, and has now begun the transition to the wilderness living by building a 120 sq ft off-grid cabin which he recently doubled in size. Our similarities continue on into minute details but I think y’all get the idea.

X convinced me to plant some fresh trees on my land so I decided to do just that. 10 in all.

I spent a day digging and planting and another day raking watering and mulching. It was one of the most fun things I have ever done. I’ve never been one to garden but after spending time with my hands in the earth, I was hooked. I understand why so many older women in their golden years delight in grooming their prize azaleas, rose bushes and hydrangeas. Count me in, ladies, I’ll even wear the big floppy hat!

These are some of my new babies before and after they were covered in a layer of mulch…

X tells me that they will grow a few feet every year so I planted some near the cabin for shade and ’cause they’re pretty.

The days are now get dark by 5pm so I’m glad my new outdoor fireplace is working like a charm. It’s throwing off heat in the face of my 29 degree nights, as well as illuminating the cabin when I retire indoors for bed!

One of the things I don’t read much about in other tiny house blogs is the feeling of isolation. I love the solitude, peace and quiet of my land, heck, sometimes I drive up there on a slow night just so I can wake up to the sound of quails and the smell of the mountain air. Truth be told however, after a few days it gets lonely. Ryo Chijiiwa on his “Laptop and a Rifle” blog touched on this subject early on but many other small living pioneers rarely mention it.

Is it just me or do we all get lonely out in the woods? I know many of this new “tiny” community are paired up and living with a partner but my life is complex to the point where I’ve not been able to settle in with someone who can just drop everything and run off to the woods forever. Maybe it’s just the inherited restless nature of my soul or maybe I need to commit to living in either city or on mountain. Either way, lately I seem to be driving myself up and down a familiar road,  going intentionally back into the cold but familiar mist at the bottom of my mountain.

 


What kind of dog is that?!

I was sitting on my new patio set the other day when I realized I was being watched by a critter. I looked at it, it looked at me. It was kinda like a big skinny dog with HUGE ears, some kind of jackalope?? I grabbed my camera and snapped a few shots but it scampered off, down the hill and into the brush.

Guess I was lucky. It looked nice and it didn’t attack, but out in the wild, you never know what danger lurks in the bushes. I definitely dodged a bullet on that!

I was visiting family in Arizona last week and did some hiking on the Salt River outside of Phoenix. It was extraordinarily beautiful!

Saguaro cactus and plenty of scampering critters kept me on my toes, weather was a perfect 85 degrees and dry. I came back to California to find wet, grey and c-c-c-cold weather.

I was able to lay a large load of gravel around my new outdoor fireplace and do some spot repairs to the trailer’s rubber roof. Looks like we’re in for a snowy winter and I want to be ready!

Not much else is going on right now. Work is slow so I’m simply enjoying the fruits of my labor, staring at the view and meeting new furry friends. I’m planning a weekend with some of my “outdoorsy” homies before it gets too cold (I think Garzo is allergic to the snow). Now that the ground is wet, it’ll be a lot of fun to finally get a fire roaring.

Here’s to a very pleasant and restful Autumn!

e.